Some areas allowing sale of fireworks

December 21, 2011 7:52:04 AM PST
A little bit of rain isn't nearly enough to get us out of this historic drought. Coming off of one of the worst wildfire seasons in the state's history, firework stands are popping up across our area as we get closer to New Year's.

So where are fireworks legal? And where are they banned?

We are definitely not out of the drought, even though we saw rain last night and today. Fireworks are banned in the city of Houston, although that's a longstanding ordinance that has nothing to do with the drought.

Unincorporated Harris County is a different story, however, and that's where you'll find fireworks stores open from now until New Year's Day.

The shelves at the Top Dog Fireworks store at Highway 290 and Huffmeister are fully stocked on this first day of sales for the holidays.

"Now that there's been some rain, the fireworks can be sold and can be shot now," said Top Dog Fireworks employee Sue Davis.

It's run by volunteers from the Cy-Springs Panther Band, who get a cut of the profits. And they're hoping to make up for money lost when Fourth of July sales were banned due to the drought.

"It's thousands of dollars, so it's painful," Cy-Springs band volunteer Kathy Brinkmeyer said.

According to the Harris County Fire Marshal's Office, it is legal to buy, own and use most consumer fireworks in the unincorporated parts of the county. Some though are banned, both in Harris and Fort Bend counties. You can't even find them for sale.

"The only ones that are not being used this year are what they call rockets with sticks and missiles with fins; that's because when you shoot them up you don't know where they're going," Davis said.

And just because we've seen more rain lately doesn't mean we're out of the drought.

"Everything is dry and so just because we had a rain doesn't eliminate the hazard," said Jeff Leggio with the Houston Fire Department.

Fireworks can't be set off and can't even be transported through the city of Houston. That means a fine of $500 or more, plus confiscated fireworks.

But the Cy-Springs band is hoping this holiday season will make things easier.

"We've had to really cut corners on how we spend our money, feeding them prior to football games, we've had to cut back on some of the lessons which is really painful," Brinkmeyer said.

Even though fireworks are permitted in unincorporated Harris County, there are some rules. You cannot set them off near a day care center, a school, a gas station or from a car.

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